No bread is an island

...entire of itself. (With apologies to John Donne!)
I live and breathe breadmaking. I’m an evangelist who would like everyone to make his or her own bread. I want to demystify breadmaking and show it as the easy everyday craft that it is. To this end I endeavour to make my recipes as simple and as foolproof as I possibly can.

I call my blog 'No bread is an island' because every bread is connected to another bread. So a spicy fruit bun with a cross on top is a hot cross bun. This fruit dough will also make a fruit loaf - or Chelsea buns or a Swedish tea ring...
I'm also a vegan, so I have lots of vegan recipes on here - and I'm adding more all the time.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

VEGAN INFO - AS IT COMES MY WAY

Almost every other day, new health research becomes available, more animal cruelty is exposed, or there's more evidence of the spread of veganism. So when I come across it, I'll post it here.

There's also global warming/climate change - the biggest challenge to our survival. Here are some facts about the effects of livestock raising from the film Cowspiracy.

Wednesday 16th August 2017
This evening I found 'What the Health' on YouTube. While I was watching this, my sis-in-law rang to tell me - how good I was, how much her respect for me had grown, and how I'd been right all along. When I managed to get her to slow down and tell me why she was saying this, it turned out that her and her husband had watched 'What the Health' on Netflix last night, and were bowled over by the info it contained. Her husband has had diabetes for several years and had let me know, in no uncertain terms, that there was no way he was going to give up meat, no way. Now here I was hearing that  they were going to watch the film again, with a view to changing their diet. 

In the meantime, their respect for me had grown tremendously. I must admit, I'm basking in their praise. It feels good after my views have been dismissed all these years!

Latest edition of  Plant Based News.

Here's a ten-minute clip from the Victoria Derbyshire show on BBC News, with a panel discussing The Rise of Veganism. Pity about the nutritionist, who seems to be in a state of denial.

And here's a doctor explaining why he went vegan.

More evidence on the beneficial effects of a WFPB diet:
"Plant-based (vegetarian and vegan) diets are an effective strategy for improving nutrient intake. At the same time, they are associated with decreased all-cause mortality and decreased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and coronary heart disease. " (From The Science of Vegetarian Nutrition and Health, 9 August 2017)

Stop feeding your cancer. An Irish doctor getting good results from putting his cancer patients on a plant based diet.

Monday 7th August 2017
Is a whole food plant based diet the answer? Doctors, including cardiologist Kim Williams, discuss the benefits of a vegan diet.

Sunday 6th August 2017
"Identical twins demonstrate diet trumps genes", Dr Rosane Oliveira.

James Cameron to release a vegan documentary, The Game Changers. (VegNews)

Our Gut Bacteria say "Go vegan or else". (Mic the Vegan)
(Click on 'Show more' underneath the video for all Mic's references)

Saturday 5th August 2017
(Previous posting on why a whole food plant based (WFPB) diet is the optimum diet.)

Here's a website that's updated pretty much every day, with news of all aspects of a WFPB diet - health, animal welfare and the environment.

A couple of items that stand out from the latest edition:
- Vegans in the US can now get cheaper life insurance thanks to their diet.
- Dairy milk under greater threat from plant-based milks.
- Interview with Dr Michael Greger, author of 'How not to die', which is still on the NY Times best-seller list, 20 months after publication. 

Another site, investigating Prostrate cancer  and a WFPB.

'Mic the vegan' is a young scientist who posts short, informative, well-researched, info about veganism on his YouTube channel. Here he is on how your body transforms on a vegan diet.

Canada's new draft food guidelines promote plant nutrition and no longer include dairy.

Plant based diet eases osteoarthritis.

And it can halt and even reverse heart disease.


In 40% of people with coronary artery disease - the first sign they are sick is sudden death. And this can happen to people as young as late 30’s early 40s.

Erectile Dysfunction is an early indicator - the canary in the coal-mine:
“E.D. is widely known as an early warning sign for heart disease.”

And, survival of the firmest.

Children's health
“Almost every North American child over the age of 3y has some degree of aortic fatty streaks.”
Hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis, can be seen in children as young as 3.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

VEGAN PARKIN - the concise recipe

(The story behind this recipe.)
Simple Parkin (vegan)

Ingredients:
100g porridge oats
100g wholemeal flour (for a gluten-free (ish) version, substitute with Dove's gluten free flour)
2 and 1/2 tsps baking powder
4 tsps ground ginger
1 tsp mixed spice
100g sugar
100g blackstrap molasses (or treacle if you can’t find molasses)
220g lukewarm water
80g vegetable oil

Method:
       Preheat the oven to 180C [or see microwave version below]
       Measure the oats, flour, baking powder, ginger and mixed spice and stir to distribute the ingredients
       Gently heat the molasses and water together to approximately blood heat and add to dry ingredients
       Add the oil to the mix and stir – initially with a large spoon or spatula, then with a whisk
       Pour in to an oiled and lined 20cm (8” inch) cake tin
       Put in the oven and cook for between 35-40 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean
       Leave on a cooling rack in the tin for ten minutes
Turn out on to the cooling tray

With a traditional parkin it is recommended you leave it for several days to mature. This is supposed to enhance the taste. I’ve no idea whether this works with this recipe – as, in this house, the parkin disappears very quickly after cooling. It is simply gorgeous from the moment it is cool enough to eat.

The only way I’ve found not to gorge on this cake is to, as soon as possible, cut it into, say, 50g pieces, then put them in the freezer. This way I can allow myself one piece per day.

If anyone has the strength and fortitude to keep the parkin for several days to see if it does in fact improve with keeping, I’d be very glad to hear from them!

Variation: For a gluten free version of this, simply use Dove’s gluten free flour in place of the wholemeal flour - and you'll need GF oats.

27th July.
Following a conversation on the Wildfood forum about microwaving carrot cake, I decided I'd try this with parkin.

I put my 800w microwave on for 3 minutes - and the parkin looked like this:


Baked in the oven my silicon cake form contains the parkin easily - but it rose much more in the microwave, as you can see! 
Once it's turned out onto the cooling rack, you can't tell the difference between a cake made in the oven - or in the microwave!
Comparing the two methods of baking:
40 minutes in the oven (with 10 minutes warm-up time), as against 5 minutes in the microwave - and you get a better risen cake!

Thursday, 27 July 2017

PANE CASERECCIO - Rolled stuffed pizza

(Some pics in this portfolio - about 12 photo's down.)

I vary the filling every time I make this - today I spread the dough with Pateole, a mushroom pate, covered that with pesto and added chunks of Fry's polony and Linda McCartney sausages plus slices of fried field mushroom. I sprinkled the whole lot with some nutritional yeast.


The dough was made with bouillon powder, half a teaspoon of curry powder, a teaspoon of dried herbs and half a jar of sun-dried tomatoes, chopped small. All this was added along with the flour. Plus I added 25g oil (from the s-d-tomatoes) after the liquid went in.


Ingredients (Makes two):    
400g (or 2 mugs) strong white flour                                                         
1/2 tsp salt                                                                  
1 rounded dessertspoon fresh yeast
250ml (or 2/3rds of a mug) lukewarm water
Two dessertspoons olive oil (optional)
                                                                       
Filling:
2 medium tomatoes or 8 mushrooms or a combination of these, cut into chunks
1 or 2 chopped vegan sausage
Chunks of vegan cheese - Violife pizza cheese works well
2/3 dessertspoons nutritional yeast, sprinkled over the filling
Black pepper

Method:
1. Measure the water and stir in the fresh yeast. Place the flour and salt into a mixing bowl, pour in the yeast liquid, then add the olive oil if using.

2. Have a little water to hand to add if necessary, remember, it is better for your dough to be wetter (slack) rather than drier (tight). Begin to mix by stirring  the ingredients together with a knife, cutting through the dough as it forms. When it gets too stiff for the knife, use your hand to squeeze the mixture together. As it forms into a solid mass, keep turning it over and pressing it down to pick up the flour at the bottom of the bowl – but make sure it stays soft. Don’t be afraid to add more water to keep it soft! When all the flour has been mixed in, wipe the bowl around with the dough, turn it out onto the worktop and begin to knead.

3. Knead by flattening the dough out, folding it over and flattening it again. If the dough is too sticky, instead of putting extra flour on your worktop, place some in the bowl, put the dough back in and turn it round to coat it all over. That way you keep the flour under control and you won’t be tempted to add too much. Knead until the dough becomes smooth – and then stop before you get fed up!

4. Divide the dough into two pieces and form them into cob shapes. Then, using flour to stop the dough sticking, roll them both out into a rectangle, roughly 30cm by 20cm. Work with each one, alternately. Spread the mushrooms/tomatoes and sausage across the dough, leaving a border at the top and bottom, then sprinkle the nutritional yeast over the filling. Finish with black pepper.

5. Roll up the dough towards you, as if making a Swiss roll, bring it to rest on the seam and squeeze the dough gently around the filling. Push any filling that’s fallen out back inside, then tuck the ends over to stop the cheese leaking out.

6. Place on a prepared baking sheet and leave to prove until they’ve risen appreciably.

7. Bake at 200C, 400F or gas mark 6 for between 20-25 minutes. If they are beginning to colour too fast, cover with baking parchment or foil and move to the coolest part of the oven. To check they are done, look for some colour underneath.
    Variations:
    Curried onions and vegan cheese. Fry some onions with curry powder. Spread across the base then add the cheese on top.

    Roasted peppers, mushrooms, courgettes, onions and vegan cheese.

    (Note: This is a version of a recipe I first saw Antonio Carluccio demonstrate on TV more than a dozen years ago. )

    Monday, 24 July 2017

    WHY EGGS should be off the menu

    10 medical reasons not to consume eggs. (Joel Kahn, MD)

    Eggs vs Cigarettes in Atherosclerosis (Michael Greger, MD)

    "...the head of USDA’s Poultry Research and Promotion program... “you can’t couch eggs [or] egg products as being ‘healthy’ or ‘nutritious.'”
    (Who says eggs aren't healthy or safe? - Michael Greger, MD)

    Smashing the myth that eggs are a health food (Jesse J. Jacoby, Plant Based News)

    What's Wrong With Eggs? The Truth About The Egg Industry - (Erin Janus)


    Free range is a con. There is no such thing as an ethical egg. (Chas Newkey-Burden - The Guardian)

    So, to sum up: Eggs are unhealthy; egg production is inherently cruel; and is the cause of enormous pollution.

    Egg replacement.
    There are several alternatives for eggs - a quick online search brings up the main ones. But eggs are often unnecessary in recipes - for instance I never use eggs in my bread recipes. And very good pancakes can be made without eggs or milk.

    SPREADING THE VEGAN MESSAGE

    Saturday 22nd July
    There is so much information out there about the benefits of a WFPB diet, it's hard to keep up. A lot of it comes from my Twitter feed, some from the websites I've subscribed to, and a lot of it I come across by searching for it.

    Often I hear of someone with a health problem and I wonder if a plant based diet would help - so I search online, e.g.. vegan diet and diabetes (say) - and I find there are a plethora of articles on the subject.

    [More]




    19th June 2017
    Over the walking weekend, I expressed the view that if I had come across some info I thought would be useful to others, I should share it - to which there was general agreement. You don’t have to click on the links I send, after all.

    So, here’s a TED talk with a refreshing take on a plant based diet.


    Another TED talk by Dr John McDougall, a physician who sees his patients get better - with just a lifestyle change:


    In response to last week’s email I’ve had a couple of requests for links to advice on specific  conditions - namely diabetes and prostate cancer.



    Check out the links below the videos - and have a look at the comments sections, there is an amazing community of helpful individuals on there answering each and every question.

    Along with Drs McDougall and Greger extolling the benefits of a plant based diet - here’s Dr Neal Barnard:


    And another great, science based website:


    The general consensus seems to be that a high IGF-1 level contributes significantly to the growth of cancer and a WFPB diet helps to keep this low.  But don’t forget, Intermittent  Fasting is  also effective in this regard. 

    Cheers, Paul


    This is a follow-up to the email I sent out prior to the last weekend - which was hugely enjoyable, as it always is. I come away from these get-togethers hugely uplifted, and I can’t wait until the next one.

    Thanks to those of you who came to my presentation. (Hope nobody missed my breadmaking too much! 😄) For all those who missed it, the feedback I got was very positive and people found the information it contained very relevant.

    I hope by now you’ve managed to see the video I linked to - I sent it out very close to the weekend, so there wouldn’t have been time for you to watch it all, I’m guessing.

    There were 3 parts to my presentation: 
    The message contained in both the ‘How not to die’ video and the book with the same title. (BTW, Keith Walker was so impressed by the video that he printed off 2 copies of 14 pages of the transcript! And I was so impressed by the book that I have bought 3 copies - 1 for myself and one each for my kids). The message can be summed up in a very few sentences - human beings make our own cholesterol, so the cholesterol contained in meat and animal products finds its way into our arteries and blood vessels, attacking the lining and allowing plaque to build up. The plaque eventually closes off the arteries and heart disease results. However, the good news is that damage to the arterial system can be reversed:


    This is what Dr Greger calls the best kept secret in medicine - as soon as you stop damaging the body, it starts to repair itself!So if you switch over to a plant-based diet, the body starts to clear away the plaque from inside the blood vessels. Immediately!

    Part 2:
    Given the age of our demographic, I thought it important to concentrate as well on Alzheimer’s - probably the disease we most fear. One of Dr Greger’s videos on his Nutrition Facts website concerns reversing mild cognitive decline by 30 minutes of brisk exercise a day:


    That’s one side of the fight against dementia - the other is a plant-based diet. This is because the blood vessels in the brain are affected just as the coronary arteries are - so the blood supply to the brain is diminished. Exercise sends the blood pumping through the brain, clearing the arteries to the brain allows the blood to flow freely. 

    Part 3:
    Intermittent Fasting (IF). One of the reasons a whole food plant based (WFPB) diet is so healthy is that it lowers IGF-1, which causes cancer. IF also lowers IGF-1, so the two work hand in hand. IF also put the body under mild stress, so the cells rejuvenate themselves. I lost 24lbs over 8 months when I began IFing, and I’ve maintained a steady 9st 3 for the past over 4 years. Now I simply fast for 24 hours once a week.

    Here’s my story:


    So there you have it, folks. But, I urge you, don’t just take my word for it, do your own research. I think both a WFPB diet and IF are firmly grounded in science, but if you can come up with contrary evidence, I’d love to see it.


    2nd June 2017
    I'm a member of an informal discussion group, meeting monthly. Whoever hosts decides the topic to be discussed.

    Yesterday we met at mine - and I chose veganism, with an emphasis on health, but necessarily touching on animal welfare and global warming.

    Over the last few weeks, I've been sending them links and references on the subject, including the film Cowspiracy.

    I began the session intending to show them the first 10 minutes of Michael Greger's 'How not to die' video. I thought I'd better cut it short when Michael Greger had finished with the subject of halting and reversing CAD, but the group wanted to carry on watching. We watched a further 10 minutes, on the subject of cancer, then we had a discussion on what we'd seen and heard. They were very receptive, much to my surprise. I was helped by one of the group who had been reading my copy of 'How not to die', and several times read pertinent passages from it. He made a particular point of telling the group that the science was sound - there were 135 pages of references at the end of the book.

    After an hour or so, I gave them coffee, plus a selection of about a dozen vegan goodies which I'd prepared - Fry's polony; 2 types of hard cheese (including Vegusto); cream cheese; homemade pizza and breadsticks; my Thai chilli non carne; nutritional yeast; seitan; Mrs Crimble's stem ginger cake; Booja Booja chocolate ice cream; and some dark chocolate. My message was that you don't have to be deprived on a vegan diet.

    Then we had a further half an hour of discussion - I was asked to relate my own story, so I told them how and why I became vegan, including the positive effects this had on my own health - and we wrapped it up.

    Outcomes:
    One of the group took us all by surprise by saying that he intended to give a vegan diet a go for a fortnight! He very much related to my story of how my sinuses had dried up after giving up dairy - he not only had a constant nasal drip, but he had asthma as well. So we'll see how well he does.
    The friend who'd borrowed my copy of the book, and another friend were concerned that their main stumbling block would be how their wives would react. I said that if they bought some vegan goodies, the mere fact that they were in the house would make it easier to begin the process of transitioning. Something I'm working on myself.
    Another member of the group emailed me to say, "Brilliant morning. Lots to consider now for a life change." After the discussion, he'd confided in me that he hadn't been looking forward to the morning, expecting simply a boring chat about veganism!

    So, 4 out of 5 ain't bad! It's certainly the best reaction to my spreading the  word that I've had in 14 years!

    Wednesday, 19 July 2017

    SUMMER FRUIT PIZZA (vegan)

    I've made this a couple of times, and it's absolutely gorgeous! I'll get the recipe and pics up on here ASAP.

    Just wanted to put up a link for my students.

    2 smaller ones made with 1 mug flour

    Basically, the base is a simple pizza dough, using sugar rather than salt. It's then rolled out flat, with a thin layer of marzipan and a topping of frozen summer fruits. A sprinkling of sugar and cinnamon finishes it off.

    Tuesday, 4 July 2017

    BREADMAKING MADE EASY - AT BURNHAM SS&L CENTRE

    Tuesday 4th July 2017
    5th week - jam doughnuts and tarts/pizza and calzone today (It was supposed to be mushroom en croute - but I forgot the mushrooms! We made a calzone with mushroom pate and pesto instead.)

    Marion's 'Fun with Jam' shaped and put to prove

    Vivien's. Doughnuts, jam tart and sweet Bialys

    John's
    Nic's

    Lynne's

    Jackie's

    John's pizza with nutritional yeast and vegan mozzarella
    (More to come - I took 31 pics today, thanks to John giving me a nudge now and then. )



    Tuesday 27th June 2017
    I've been running this course for several weeks now, with every intention of posting about it - and now I've managed to get round to it.

    6 students have been attending for the past four weeks - with 2 to go - and, so far, these complete beginners have made 13 different varieties of bread:

    A College loaf - tear and share. Not sure who's this is.

    John's College loaf 





    For the college loaves, half of the students made a wholemeal dough, while the other half made a dough from white flour - then they swapped half each.


    I think these are Viv's pain au chocoat - I know she made 8! :)

    Jackie and Nic's college loaves, naan breads, pittas and pain au chocolat

    More incognito bread! - Naan, pittas and pain au chocolat

    I always ask students to identify their bread with an initial - but it's often an afterthought and sometimes overlooked, both of which are my fault. The initial does two things, it enables students to be reunited with their own bread, and it allows me to identify who has made which batch.

    Lynne's naans and pittas

    Marion's pittas, naan and pain au chocolat

    Jackie and Nic's  chocolate and banana bread and garlic 'batons' - slightly nibbled!

    As you've noticed, some of the breads are darker than others - partly this is to do with the ovens, but occasionally, the bread gets forgotten about, and becomes a bit singed!

    The students also made a batch of 'high-hydration' dough to take home with them - this is a method of getting more water into a bread dough. You make the dough stickier than usual, then give it several 10-20 second kneadings over an hour or two. Each time you re-visit the dough it's slightly less sticky than before.

    During the shaping demos, Vivien showed us how to do a 5-strand plait:


    I took a video of Viv doing this - if I can upload it, I will.

    Since yesterday's session I've received a couple of emails:

    Jackie wrote:

    Hi Paul 
    When we got home the bread was pushing its way out of the container !! and wow when we cooked it was lovely so pleased , Nic took his loaf to Cornwall this evening to share with his Mum n Dad.
    I loved the result and so easy thanks so much 

    And Lynne wrote:

    Dear Paul,
    It made delicious toast for my husband and I this morning and I feel very pleased with my efforts. The garlic batons were to die for. Probably my favourite so far. I had eaten 1 before I drove home yesterday and managed to share the other with my hubby over a pasta supper dish. 



    Absolutely splendid, is my verdict!

    Since this course is all about gaining the skills to make bread at home, it's good to see the results from the student's own kitchens!

    Monday, 3 July 2017

    GARLIC BATONS - in the oven and frying pan (Vegan)

    Saturday 1st July 2017
    Since I began teaching at Taunton Association of the Homeless, a couple of years ago, I've made quite a bit of bread in a frying pan, along with the students. When they find accommodation, they may not always have an oven, but they may well have a hob and a frying pan. 

    Last week the students on my current Burnham breadmaking opted to make garlic batons, as below, in the oven. So I wanted to see how these would fare, making them in a frying pan.

    I used self raising flour, as I often do, these days:
    Put the frying pan on a medium heat
    100g s/raising flour
    Pinch of salt
    65ml water

    Mixed into a dough and kneaded for a minute or two
    Roll out into a rectangle a bit shorter than the frying pan

    Garlic spread:
    3 cloves garlic, smashed 
    Heaped dessertspoon vegan spread -mixed together

    Spread the garlic, et, over the dough and roll it up tightly.

    Using a little flour and a rolling pin, flatten the dough and place it in the frying pan with a lid of some sort. Bake for 4 minutes each side - the colour should finish up a golden brown. 

    Not like this one...

    I baked it too long on both sides.

    Still tasted gorgeous, though!

    I made one for my neighbour - his verdict was, "Stunning!"

    Sometime back in 2011.
    Whenever I'm offered garlic bread at a gathering it's almost inevitably a supermarket baguette, cut into chunks, slathered with butter and garlic and baked for a while. It's OK, but it doesn't have the depth of flavour of these batons, where the bread and the filling are cooked together. Vary the filling as you will, with herbs, pesto, etc. As a vegan, I use olive oil instead of butter.
    Garlic batons. Dough rolled out flat, covered with mashed garlic and olive oil, then rolled up like a Swiss roll


    This method infuses the whole loaf with garlic


    Ingredients:
    400g strong white flour of your choice
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    250ml lukewarm water
    1 rounded dessertspoon fresh yeast
    Good splash of olive oil

    Filling:
    Garlic spread made with around a dozen or so cloves of garlic, peeled and squashed, and olive oil to taste. Mix in any herbs or spices you fancy. Spread with pesto to give it a bit more oomph.

    Method:
    1. Measure the water and stir in the fresh yeast. Place the flour and salt into a mixing bowl, pour in the yeast liquid, then add the olive oil.

    2. Have a little water to hand to add if necessary, remember, it is better for your dough to be wetter (slack) rather than drier (tight). Begin to mix by stirring the ingredients together with a knife, cutting through the dough. When it gets too stiff for the knife, use your hand to squeeze the mixture together. As it forms into a solid mass, keep turning it over and pressing it down to pick up the flour at the bottom of the bowl – but make sure it stays soft. Don’t be afraid to add more water to keep it soft! When all the flour has been mixed in, wipe the bowl around with the dough, turn it out onto the worktop and begin to knead.

    3. Knead by stretching the dough out, folding it over, stretching it out and so on and so forth. Do this until it is smooth – or until you get fed up! Either leave it, covered, for an hour or so, or go to step 4.

    4. Divide the dough in two and form each piece into a round bap shape. Roll each piece out into a large rectangle – about 20cm by 30cm on a floured worktop. Spread the filling all over the dough and roll each piece up like a Swiss roll, with the seam side underneath. Gently tuck the ends underneath to stop any leakage. (You’ll still get a bit.) Place them on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment.

    5. Leave to prove until they have risen appreciably.

    6. Bake at 220C, 425F or gas mark 7 for between 15-20 minutes. Look for colour underneath.

    Tuesday, 6 June 2017

    BREADMAKING MADE EASY Wellington 25/5/17

    Mon 6th June 2017
    Last session today - here's the group with some of their bread. Over the past 6 weeks together they made around 18 varieties of bread.


    Naans, pitta, marzipan and apple tartlets (with dates as an alternative) and a college, tear and share loaf to finish with.

    Here's a pic that Dave sent me after missing the last session. He made a small chocolate and banana loaf and turned the other half of the dough into Chelsea buns.

    Tuesday 23rd May 2017
    Stuffed mushrooms, chocolate and banana bread and loaves. We didn't bake the loaves in the session, instead the students took the dough home and baked it there. Here's a pic that Wendy sent me of her loaf:

    Cottage loaf with cuts
    And Elaine sent me this:

    A tinned loaf


    Tuesday 16th May 2017
    Fun with jam, sizzlers and Peshwari naan












    Saturday, 20 May 2017

    PAIN AU CHOCOLAT - ON-LINE

    Saturday 15th January 2011
    This coming Saturday morning I want to conduct an experiment. I want to see if we can get a group of people all making bread at the same time. Beginners and families especially welcome.

    I thought 'petit pain au chocolat' because, a) they’re fun to make, and, b) because they’re one of the easiest, most satisfying things you can make. (And because they come with a free French lesson!)

    Starting at 10am, I’ll be measuring and mixing the dough, shaping the rolls and putting them to prove. I’ll log each step on here, and put pics on my blog.

    This recipe will make 8-10 chocolate rolls.

    Here’s the recipe I’ll be following:
    200g strong white flour (although you can use plain flour if that’s all you’ve got)
    1 dessertspoon granulated sugar
    1 teaspoon yeast (either fresh or dried active yeast)
    125ml lukewarm water

    8-16 pieces of eating chocolate – any sort you like - depending on how much chocolate you intend to use in each roll
    1 teaspoon sugar for a glaze

    I’ll endeavour to include every piece of information about the ingredients and the process I can think of, including variations, calorie content, etc, and answer any questions you may have.

    When you’ve been making bread for a while, some of the process becomes automatic, so I really have to think about every step of the way from a beginner’s perspective. Don’t hesitate to ask about anything I haven’t fully explained.

    Flour:
    For this sort of bread I generally use all white flour. However, you can use 50:50 wholemeal and white (you can use all wholemeal, but this makes for a heavy bread not really suited (IMO) for a pain au chocolat.) Own-brand is fine - the last time I checked Lidl's was cheapest at 75p and Sainsbury's at 95p.

    Sugar:
    Granulated is absolutely fine. There’s no advantage to be gained by using caster sugar. You could use other types, but I doubt you’d tell the difference.

    Yeast:
    I generally use fresh - currently 20p for 50g at Sainsbury's (or available from small bakeries - where they make bread on the premises), but I always have a tin of dried active yeast in the fridge (keeps better in there) in case I run out. Available from small bakeries or the bakery counter in large supermarkets, often. Dried active yeast is made by Allinson's and comes in a yellow tin by the flour shelves in supermarkets - currently 64p. It literally keeps for years - in the fridge once opened.

    As a general rule, use half as much dried yeast as you would fresh. However, for small amounts such as we’re using, a teaspoon of either will suffice.


    Dried active yeast (almost a teaspoon)
    Fresh yeast (purchased on 9/12/10 - kept in the fridge in a plastic bag)
    Yeast (like bacteria!) needs warmth, moisture, food – and time. Given these four things, it will thrive.

    Water:
    Needs to be approximately blood heat (hand hot, or lukewarm). One third boiling water to two-thirds cold water will give you the right temperature for yeast every time. But always dip your fingers in the water to check.

    Chocolate:
    Good quality eating chocolate is better for this bread – although you can use cooking chocolate if you have some you want to use up.

    Shopping list:
    1 bag strong bread flour (white) 
    Yeast - fresh if you can find it, but pop a tin of dried active yeast in your basket, anyway. Then you always have it in.
    Chocolate. Your favourite sort. 
    Granulated sugar.

    Equipment:
    Scales, measuring jug, baking tray, baking parchment (a roll of this lasts for years, since each piece is reusable until it falls apart), cooling rack, pastry brush.

    I think that's it for now. I'm sure someone will remind me if I've forgotten anything.

    If anyone would like to forgo all this and just make them now - the full recipe is to be found here.

    See you Saturday!


    It’s up to you how much chocolate you use – a small piece or two pieces joined together. The pieces at the top are from a 100g 70% chocolate bar with only 10 pieces, one of them divided in two.
    For a video of the method and techniques we're using - up to dividing the dough, have a look at this 'Sizzler' recipe on YouTube. (However, don't forget, in this recipe we're using sugar and not salt.)

    Once the dough is made, it is divided into 8 pieces:


    Divided into two...



    ...and eventually into 8. The larger piece is a quarter of the dough (or 2 eighths) to show you how big the rolls will grow when they've doubled in size. As you can see, I've put various amounts of chocolate on top of the lumps of dough.
    Top left I've got 1 whole piece of a large square of chocolate, divided in two and placed one on top of the other.  The one at the bottom is half of one of those pieces as is the one to its right. the rest are either 1 or 2 pieces of an ordinary bar of dark chocolate.
    Here I am squidging and pinching the dough together round the chocolate.
    Carefully seal any gap, pinching the dough together quite tightly.
    Turn the dough over and, using your cupped hand, gently roll it round to smooth it into a pleasing shape. 
    When turned over with the seam underneath, the weight of the dough helps keep the seam intact


    As you can see, I'm not all that bothered about them all being the same size. The three with the little knobs on are filled with dairy-free chocolate (mine, in other words!). I've put them on used baking parchment to rise (prove), to show that this paper will go in an out of the oven many times before it falls apart. Leave them on your worktop, covered with a tea towel to keep out any draughts. Check them every 15-20 minutes to see if they've risen.
    Now they have begun to show a definite rise - the gap between the rolls is a lot less and the dough has smoothed out - it's time to put the oven on. Don't worry about a time limit - this is the time for patience; the bread will rise on your worktop.


    Fresh from the oven - and chocolate has escaped from just the one!
    Brushed with sugar glaze - this just finishes them off.
    Place them on a cooling rack. These rolls are at their best as soon as  they're cool enough to eat. Cut in half they cool quicker. Use either a pair of scissors or a good bread knife  - but don't press down too hard on new bread; let the knife do the work!

    Now is the time to sit back, enjoy your pain au chocolat and plan what bread you're going to make next!

    Saturday morning - I posted these messages on both the BBC Food board, and the Wildfood board:

    At 1004 I posted this:

    Okey, dokey, here we go!

    Weighed 200g flour and added a dessertspoon of sugar.

    Measured 125ml (or grams) of lukewarm water

    Stirred in a teaspoon of dried active yeast.

    But if you've got fresh yeast, use that instead.

    Added to mixing bowl.

    Begun to mix together.



    At 1020 I posted this:


    As I was mixing I had to take a phone call. Picked the phone up with my hand in a plastic bag.

    Back to work...

    Mix was a bit dry, so I added a bit more water - you're looking for a soft, squishy dough.

    Always good to have a little water to hand when mixing.

    Kneaded the dough - just flattening and folding - for about 20 kneading actions, by which time the dough had become smooth and all the little bits had disappeared (that's all you're looking for).

    Now about to divide the dough into 8, and break the chocolate up into squares.



    And at 1037 I posted this on both threads:


    All done, now. 

    The rolls are proving on the worktop, covered with a tea towel

    It was a bit fiddly, since I made the dough a little too sticky.

    I found myself using a table knife to lift up each piece of dough off the worktop.

    And I forgot to distinguish the two rolls I'd filled with chilli chocolate! 


    Anybody out there?

    Any questions, any time.



    So far I've had one response - from Suffolk, who's taking notes ATM.

    At 11.19 I posted:

    Bread showing definite signs of rising - just put the oven on at 220C

    At 11.36 I posted:

    The oven's now up to temperature, but, looking at the rolls I decided they hadn't risen enough.

    Once the oven is on I feel an obligation to get them in there as soon as I can.

    So, to give them a lift, I decided to give them a blast of heat.

    I put them in the oven for 1 minute only, then took them out again.

    I'll check them again in 5 minutes, by which time they may well be ready to bake.


    At 11.46 I posted:

    That's done the trick - in the oven and the timer set for 8 minutes.

    They'll need turning round at that time, and need probably another 4 minutes baking.



    At 11.52 I posted:


    Now's the time to put the kettle on for a cup of tea or coffee with your fresh pain au chocolat - and to make the sugar glaze.

    Warm the jug, place one teaspoon of sugar and 2 teaspoons of boiling water in there - whisk for a minute or two, then you're ready.

    Leave the rolls on the baking parchment while you glaze them - it's easier to wipe the paper than it is to wipe the cooling rack later on!



    At 12.30 (by which time they'd been out about 20 minutes) I posted:


    Well, they're out, glazed - and one of them has mysteriously disappeared!

    I'll put a pic up of the remaining 7 shortly.

    They're not as brown as I'd like - and that's because, using the small top oven, the shelf was down the bottom.

    When I checked after 8 minutes, the tops were still very pale. I put the shelf as high as it would go and turned off the bottom element.

    After another 5 minutes, the rolls were done, but still not very brown on top, as you'll see.

    (I should have said I distinguished what I thought was the chilli chocolate ones with a snip from a pair of scissors.)

    Just heard from my wife that I failed miserably in identifying the chilli ones - she's just had one and she hates chilli!



    Not as good looking as the last lot - but not bad for all that!
    At around 12.15, Sara posted this message on the BBC food board:
    Hi Paul. Just taken mine out of the oven and glazed them - they look delish! About to tuck in - Sara and Phil



    And a little while later, she posted again:
    They were really yummy - we demolished the whole lot!


    Which was rather nice!


    On the Sunday I heard from LeCreusetFiend:
    Just to say I made these this afternoon, and very well they went down too with a nice cup of tea!

    Tatihou offered this on Saturday:
    I started later than I planned but they are now lurking under a tea-towel, proofing peacefully. The kitchen's a bit cold this afternoon so might take a bit longer than yours.


    And came back on Monday to say:
    Those I made on Saturday rose well, looked lovely when they were glazed... and didn't last long.


    However, one poster didn't fare so well:
    To my shame and embarrassment they were an absolute disaster - took hours to rise even a teensy bit and ended up rock hard little stones that smelt like a brewery. I am going to blame the yeast, which was the right sort but had been in the back of a cupboard for several months, and get a new tin and try again next Sunday morning...........